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"Madam President, Prime Minister, honourable Members of the European Parliament, I naturally want to begin by thanking you for giving me the opportunity to come here and present the Commission’s assessment of the European Council meeting in Göteborg. This meeting too was, in the end, about issues of widely differing kinds. Two decisions merit particular attention because they will advance European integration and shape policy in the medium and long term. I therefore want to concentrate on these two decisions in my presentation in this chamber. According to the Brundtland Commission’s definition, sustainable development is a ‘development meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The Göteborg Summit means that the European Union is making significant progress along these lines. The Göteborg conclusions emphasise firstly that we must become better at framing our policy: We must get to grips with conflicting interests, or policy inconsistencies, in a considered and open way instead of ignoring them. We must strive for a policy which can meet quite a few different objectives at the same time. We must weigh immediate needs against the long-term consequences of decisions and their impact outside the EU. That applies to the institutions of the European Union. The European Council has called upon them to improve the coordination of domestic policy in different sectors. The most important decision in this context was the decision to supplement the Lisbon strategy with an environmental dimension. As from next year, sustainable development will be a permanent item on the agenda of the European Council’s spring meetings. That is important progress. The process has been established, and the Commission will prepare for this annual review with a comprehensive report. From a political perspective, this means that the environmental dimension of sustainable development has now been accorded the same dignity as the economic and social issues. The Lisbon process has become still more important by having now become the framework for work on promoting the dimensions of sustainable development. The European Council also noted that, in its plan of measures for better legislation – to be submitted to the European Council meeting in Laeken – the Commission will introduce mechanisms whereby all important political proposals will contain an assessment of how sustainability will be affected. The Council also emphasised the importance of enabling parties who are affected to participate. In the forthcoming white paper on administration, we shall be tabling practical proposals for improving consultation with parties affected. The Member States are called upon to devise their own national strategies for sustainable development. It is obviously an important task for MEPs, too, to follow this up in their respective Member States. These are important decisions because sustainable development can scarcely be achieved if there are no effective procedures or effective decision making to guarantee consistent, long-term policy. Secondly, the European Council has, in line with the Commission’s proposal, drawn attention to four priority areas for sustainable development. These areas supplement the Lisbon programme’s economic and social objectives. First of all, climate change. This is one of the most serious problems of our age. The Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards getting to grips with this problem. As you know, the EU is doing its utmost right now to try to rescue the protocol. Climate change entails enormous costs for ourselves and the rest of the world. The greatest cost of all is borne by those who live in poor countries. At the same time, climate policy provides financial opportunities for more efficient energy use, as well as opportunities – if taken proper advantage of – for the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources. Secondly: public health. This is threatened by, for example, accumulations of chemicals in the environment and the ever more widespread resistance to antibiotics. This is an area which affects people directly and which is of concern to our citizens. Thirdly, the waste of natural resources and reduced biological diversity. Fourthly, the transport system. If this is to function in the long term, then limits must be placed upon traffic congestion, the increase in the amount of traffic and the effects upon the environment. First of all, the European Council has given us a fixed timetable for the first round of enlargement. It should be possible for negotiations with those candidate countries that are ready to be completed at the end of next year. The new Member States will therefore be able to participate as fully fledged Members in the elections to the European Parliament in 2004. These four areas demand decisive leadership and rapid intervention. The policy proposals presented by the Commission in its communication are still relevant. Sustainable development must be given the highest priority when the common policy is reviewed. The European Council takes note of this fact – with particular reference to agriculture and fisheries. A number of further specific and overarching measures and objectives for each one of these four priority areas were established at the meeting. I want to emphasise that sustainable development must not only be focused on the problems, concerns and costs, but that it is just as much a question of innovation, investments, growth and new jobs as of environmental protection, health and quality of life. Sustainable development as a concept and idea makes for new economic opportunities. We are very pleased that the European Council shares this view and has emphasised this fact. Finally: Europe also has an responsibility for sustainable development. The presidency’s conclusions again highlight the European Union’s commitment to achieving the UN’s objectives for aid and development aid of 0.7 per cent of GNP. At the beginning of next year, the Commission will present a communication on how the European Union is to be able to contribute globally to sustainable development. That communication, together with the sustainable development strategy put forward in Göteborg, will be the EU’s main contribution to the world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg next year. The people of Europe expect the European Union not only to look to today’s needs but also to secure their children’s and grandchildren’s future. People expect us to be involved in solving the global problems constituted by environmental damage and under-development. That is what sustainable development is about. The fact that the European Council in Göteborg approved a sustainable development strategy and also instituted a process for devising and implementing such a strategy therefore constitutes significant progress. Enlargement is an historic opportunity to guarantee stability and prosperity in Europe for a long time to come. The practical timetable established in Göteborg is therefore of the very greatest importance. In our assessment, the European Council in Göteborg was successful and produced practical results. The meeting marks the end of a presidency with which the Commission has cooperated well and which has done a lot, especially within my own area of responsibility. Secondly, the European Council gave its support to a strategy for sustainable development. This strategy involves the European Union’s undertaking to take certain measures to ensure that it will be possible for prosperity in Europe and the rest of the world to be maintained in the long term too. Through the Lisbon process, the environment has ended up at the centre of our policy. These are important and practical decisions that the Commission welcomes. The violence on the streets of Göteborg I was also there and saw it with my own eyes – must not overshadow the important political decisions taken in Göteborg. We all condemn the violence, for stones can never replace arguments. Nor do they reflect people’s interests, either in the Member States or in the candidate countries. I should like to begin by commenting on the summit’s decisions on enlargement. The European Council drew the following conclusion, and I quote: ‘Provided that progress towards meeting the accession criteria continues at an unabated pace, the road map should make it possible to complete negotiations by the end of 2002 for those candidate countries that are ready. The objective is that they should participate in the European Parliament elections of 2004 as members’. The European Union’s commitment to receiving new members has never been expressed more clearly or more precisely than in Göteborg. The process is now irrevocable. The Union is ready to meet the challenge of enlargement. In Göteborg, more details were provided of the timetable sketched out in the conclusions from the Nice Summit. In that way, it has become a realistic possibility that the negotiations with those States that have progressed furthest will be completed at the end of next year, and the objective has been set of their being able to participate in the elections to the European Parliament in 2004. The Commission’s timetable for the negotiations has therefore proved to be realistic. The Swedish presidency’s way of handling the agenda and its determined way of conducting the negotiations has contributed significantly to this result. The prospects for a successful conclusion to the negotiations are now better than ever. The negotiations will continue in accordance with those principles that have been established: the candidate countries will be judged solely on the basis of their own merits; the negotiations must take place separately for each country; and those countries which entered into the negotiations at the beginning of 2000 must be given an opportunity to catch up. We want to be clear on this point: the enlargement process can only succeed if there is enough political support. The negotiations must therefore be conducted with a certain flexibility so that the candidate countries’ wishes and concerns may be taken into account. Consideration must be given to the social price which people in the candidate countries will have to pay. We cannot make unreasonable demands upon the candidate countries when it comes to the financial burden involved for them in adopting EU standards. On 15 May, President Prodi presented the Commission’s proposals for a strategy of sustainable development to you here in Parliament. Today, we are pleased to be able to note that the European Council supports a strategy of sustainable development for the European Union. Certainly, the meeting was unable to agree to all the individual measures and objectives listed by the Commission in its communication. Nonetheless, the Göteborg conclusions provide clear indications of the direction in which the European Council wants our policy – and our society – to develop. The conclusions also include a challenge to the Council to examine the individual proposals from the Commission."@en1

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